Tough on hash

City Council passes law to combat rise of butane honey oil labs

In an effort to combat a growing problem with concentrated cannabis oil, the Chico City Council voted unanimously to restrict the sale and possession of butane during its meeting on Tuesday (June 21).

Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien (pictured) explained that local production of so-called butane honey oil (BHO), a super-potent form of hash, is on the rise, and the process produces a potentially explosive vapor.

“The gas is heavier than air and pools in low-lying areas near possible ignition sources,” O’Brien said. Last year, there were explosions at three BHO labs in Chico—two in apartments and one in a trailer.

And the number of BHO lab seizures in Butte County has nearly doubled each of the last three years. There were 16 seizures in 2013; 31 in 2014; and 56 in 2015, O’Brien said. He added that, last year, Butte County was second only to Los Angeles County in the total number of BHO lab seizures in California.

Once on the books, the law will limit businesses from selling more than 600 mL of butane per transaction; limit customers to purchasing no more than 600 mL per 30-day period; and ban anyone other than commercial sellers from possessing more than that amount. Further, sellers must keep records of sales for two years. Violations will be considered misdemeanors punishable by a $1,000 fine or six months in county jail.

The ordinance will come back for a second reading after 30 days, at which point Chico likely will become the first municipality in the county to restrict butane.